France comes to Honk Kong

Nick Myall
20 Jan 2016

A new campus at The French International School in Hong Kong will feature unique façades designed to create natural ventilation

The French International School (FIS) currently has four campuses in Hong Kong. The new campus, designed by Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects, in Tseung Kwan O district will serve 1,050 students ranging from kindergarten to middle school. 

The campus’ larger purpose is to act as a centre for French culture in Hong Kong. With this in mind, the campus will open up in the evening and weekends for public events, such as French May, French cinematheque, sport competitions and exhibitions.

The campus consists of two bars elevated above a 3,000 sq m sports- and playground and a 500 sq m botanical garden. On the ground floor is a 300 seat auditorium, a 600 seat canteen and a kindergarten. The bars contain respectively the Primary School and the Middle School with a large gymnasium and a swimming pool. The roofs allow for another two playgrounds and educative gardens.

The design of the Primary School offers a new approach to teaching. In the flexible open plan layout, called Villa, students of each year (five classes) share a common sense of space and form a community. The Villas offer a wide range of possibilities to teach and learn in new ways. Classrooms can merge to create larger units with two teachers and they extend seamlessly into a shared space -the Agora- where children can gather or learn differently than in classrooms. The Villas also extend outdoors on every floor to large shared terraces and classroom sized hanging gardens. Furthermore the facades of the primary school are designed as deep sun breakers, offering balconies, integrated storages and reading corners to each classroom. 

The main identity of the campus is however concentrated in the façade of the Sport and Middle School block, consisting of 1,000 coloured ceramic sun breakers, each adopted and customized by a student. The façade will therefore become a solid symbol of the diversity within the school and the involvement of each student colouring its future. Technically speaking the design of the façade diffuses light softly into the upper limits of the gymnasium and minimizes heat gains. 

The layout of the bars is optimized to let prevailing eastern winds ventilate the campus outdoor and indoor. This orientation coincides with the ambition to reduce heat gain from sun by maximizing classroom facades facing north and south.

The east façades are designed to collect winds and lead them into the heart of the school, creating a controllable variable airflow for the natural ventilation of the classes. Larger spaces like the gymnasium use a stack effect to create natural ventilation even on windless days.

The French International School of Hong Kong was established in 1963 as one of the first international schools in Hong Kong. Currently, the school welcomes over 2,600 students from Kindergarten to Year 13/Terminale, representing 40 different nationalities, across four campuses in Happy Valley, Jardine’s Lookout, Chai Wan and Hung Hom.

Listen to our podcast with Louis Becker Design Director and Principal Partner at Henning Larsen Architects.

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Nick Myall

News Editor

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